Last week, a poten­tial client phoned me about writ­ing some con­tent for the web­site. They had been con­cerned that they hadn’t been receiv­ing the traf­fic they want­ed, so their web­site per­son told them that they prob­a­bly need­ed new con­tent opti­mized for key­words. I told them to email me the details, and that I’d take a look.

Need­less to say, that I was shocked to see what I saw. In the sam­ple page they want­ed me to write, they want­ed me to stuff it with key­word phras­es: 5 instances of one phrase, 3 rep­e­ti­tions of two phras­es each, 2 rep­e­ti­tions of anoth­er phras­es, and 1 instance each of two phras­es that were pret­ty much the same phras­es. Remem­ber, this was for a sin­gle page.

I polite­ly declined the project, explain­ing that I pre­fer writ­ing copy that flows nat­u­ral­ly and that I find key­word stuff­ing too awk­ward to write.

There are 2 rea­sons why I avoid key­word stuff­ing:

It’s unnatural

I already men­tioned this above, but key­word stuff­ing results in copy that is awk­ward, at best, to read. Awk­ward copy inter­feres with read­er com­pre­hen­sion, which slows the read­er down. It also sounds des­per­ate, leav­ing a taste of unpro­fes­sion­al­ism in the mouths of your poten­tial cus­tomers.

Instead, write copy that flows nat­u­ral­ly. This keeps your read­ers engaged, which tells them that you val­ue their time.

Heck, I’d sug­gest skip­ping key­words alto­geth­er.

It’ll ruin your search rankings

The sec­ond rea­son I avoid key­word stuff­ing is that it may lead to your site los­ing rank­ings in Google’s search results. On the sur­face, key­word stuff­ing result­ing in low­er search rank­ing doesn’t make sense. How­ev­er, Google penal­izes web­sites that use key­word stuff­ing:

Fill­ing pages with key­words or num­bers results in a neg­a­tive user expe­ri­ence, and can harm your site’s rank­ing. Focus on cre­at­ing use­ful, infor­ma­tion-rich con­tent that uses key­words appro­pri­ate­ly and in con­text.

For more infor­ma­tion on the pit­falls of key­word stuff­ing, check out these 7 posts from oth­er experts:

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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